With being a mom comes many challenges and triumphs, but being a stepparent of a ‘blended family’ comes with its own unique ups and downs. This marriage is very different from your first because it is not only about your new partner and raising your children, but it is now also about how well the two families mesh together and how to gain respect from your biological kids as well as your stepkids. Although it may be an uncomfortable role shift at first, remember that your main goal is to create a successful, harmonious, and natural-flowing family without forcing the new system. The end goal is definitely worth all of its challenges along the way, and we’ve got the tips on how to get you there!
Understand Parenting Styles
It is important to discuss not only with your husband, but also possibly with his ex, on their parenting methods. It is important for all parents in a blended family to be on the same page, otherwise there will never be unity. Be open to and willing to compromise on new parenting methods regarding punishments, chores, bedtimes, rewards, etc. It is also important that biological children and stepchildren are not raised completely differently under the same household.
Don’t Expect Too Much
Unfortunately, this is not The Brady Bunch. Try to get the idea of “one big happy family” out of your head and look at the situation realistically. Don’t let the pressure of what and how you think it should be to get in the way of each family member’s true individuality and role. It can take years for a blended family to finally be comfortable with each other, so having too high of an expectation for a picture perfect family will leave you disheartened.
Be the Good Cop
It is important that your stepkids get the chance to warm up to you and to view you as a positive influence in their lives. Be the good cop, and don’t overstep your bounds. Let your spouse discipline his biological kids at first, but always be supportive of his decisions. Try to involve yourself in the kids’ lives more through their interests and through laughter. While following this tip, it is crucial that you do not act one way towards your stepkids and the opposite way towards your biological kids. They will recognize the difference, which will ultimately create a divide in the house.
Speak of All Parents in the Situation with Respect
Although it may seem obvious, it is something that you must be conscientious of. No child wants to hear anyone disrespecting their parent, let alone someone that they are trying to open up to. It is important that the kids in the situation should not feel like they are in the middle of a lifelong war between they’re biological mom and their stepmom. This is also true if a parent is no longer present in the kids’ lives; it is still important to remind them of the love that the parent has for their kid.
Try Not to Take It Personally
You may hear the words, “You’re not my real mom,” come out of your stepkids’ mouths, but do not take it personally. When a child gets a stepparent, he or she is essentially mourning the loss of their dream for their biological parents to be together, so it is going to be an emotional time for them. Realize that their actions and words are not a personal dig at you, and try to avoid the struggle for that power.
Foster Individual Relationships
When taking on multiple stepchildren, it is important to nurture a different relationship with each one of them so that you can make a connection with them on a deeper level. Find out their interests, their personalities and their hobbies, and form your relationship based on what you both have in common. Take the time out each week to do at least one activity with each one individually. It is crucial that if you are doing this with your stepkids that you also do this with your biological kids and your husband!
Find Someone to Talk to
When going through any big transition or struggle in life, it is important to relieve stress by talking through it. Find someone that you can confide in who is an outsider in the situation, whether it is a friend, a neighbor, a therapist, or someone who can relate to your situation. Find someone who will not judge you and get EVERYTHING off your chest.
A very important thing to remember when raising a blended family is to take care of yourself in the process. You not only want to create a great family dynamic, but you also need to make sure you love the role that you have within the family. Yes, the first couple of years may be an uphill battle at times, but once you reach the top, the view is great!